Page 51. " the Daniel who shall expound it is as yet a-wanting "
Belshazzar's Feast (c.1635)
Public DomainBelshazzar's Feast (c.1635) - Credit: Rembrandt

Daniel is an Old Testament prophet who interprets dreams and visions. One of the best-known incidents to befall him occurs at the feast of Belshazzar. When mysterious writing appears on the wall of the king’s palace, he enlists Daniel to interpret it for him. To his horror, Daniel reveals that the text announces God has decreed an end to his kingdom, the Babylonian empire, and will divide it among the Persians and the Medes, saying, “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting” (Daniel 5:27). Read the whole of the Book of Daniel here.

Page 52. " Here, to witness the scene which we are describing, sat Governor Bellingham himself "
Illustration of Governor Bellingham from the 1893 edition
Public DomainIllustration of Governor Bellingham from the 1893 edition - Credit: Frederick C. Gordon

Richard Bellingham (c.1592-1672) was a colonial magistrate who moved from Lincolnshire in England to Massachusetts in 1634. He was elected as the eighth Governor of the colony in 1641. Though he didn’t manage to retain this position for more than a year, he was re-elected in 1654, and then again in 1665. Between times, he held powerful posts in the colonial council of assistants. Though his main contribution to future generations was the Body of Liberties (1641), which enshrined freedoms later included in the Bill of Rights, he took a harsh attitude towards Quakers and Baptists and was among the magistrates who presided over Anne Hutchinson’s banishment. 

Page 52. " the reverend and famous John Wilson, the eldest clergyman in Boston "

Originally from Sudbury in Suffolk, John Wilson made the voyage to New England in 1630 and served as the first minister of the colony, first at Charlestown and then at Boston. Until his death in 1667, this religiously orthodox figure was responsible for expounding the meaning of the scriptures not only to the Puritan faithful but also to Native Americans. He clashed severely with Anne Hutchinson, who questioned his emphasis on the doctrine of works, and delivered the final verdict in the trial against her.  

Page 53. " He looked like the darkly engraved portraits which we see prefixed to old volumes of sermons "

These author portraits from collections of seventeenth-century sermons exude the brooding and somber air Hawthorne describes.

Frontispiece of LXXX Sermons preached by that Learned and Reverend Divine, Iohn Donne (1640)
Public DomainFrontispiece of LXXX Sermons preached by that Learned and Reverend Divine, Iohn Donne (1640)
Frontispiece of A Century of Sermons on Several Remarkable Subjects: preachyed by the Right Reverend Father in God., John Hacket (1675)
Public DomainFrontispiece of A Century of Sermons on Several Remarkable Subjects: preachyed by the Right Reverend Father in God., John Hacket (1675)


Page 53. " a young clergy man, who had come from one of the great English universities "
The Divinity School at the University of Oxford, built in 1488
Creative Commons AttributionThe Divinity School at the University of Oxford, built in 1488 - Credit: David Quick

This institution is specified in chapter nine as being the University of Oxford. The oldest English-speaking university in the world and among the best regarded, it dates back to the late eleventh century. That Dimmesdale studied here not only identifies him as a man of subtle intellect but also suggests a possible motivation for his joining the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In the years following the Reformation, the University of Oxford was a Catholic-free domain: Calvinists dominated, but Puritans were a continuously-represented body. This changed in 1628 when William Laud was made Chancellor. Having spent his earlier years trying to suppress Puritans within the church, he used his new position to do the same in the university and endeavoured to turn it into a royalist stronghold. Any Puritans attempting to oppose him found themselves facing as bloody a punishment as anything described in The Scarlet Letter.  

Map of Oxford as it appeared in 1578
Public DomainMap of Oxford as it appeared in 1578 - Credit: Ralph Agas
Page 57. " Master Brackett, the jailer "
Illustration of Master Brackett leading Chillingworth into Hester's cell in the 1893 edition
Public DomainIllustration of Master Brackett leading Chillingworth into Hester's cell in the 1893 edition - Credit: Frederick C. Gordon

Hawthorne drew this name from Caleb Snow’s History of Boston (1825), which makes mention of one “Richard Parker or Brackett, whose name we find on the colony records as prison keeper so early as 1638. He had ‘the market stead’ on the east, the prison yard west, and the meeting house on the south“ (p.116).



Jailer's keys
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeJailer's keys - Credit: Dorene Boman
Page 57. " He described himself as a man of skill in all Christian modes of physical science "

Scientific understanding accelerated rapidly following the onset of the Scientific Revolution. Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) had described the heliocentric universe; Andreas Vesalius (1514-64) had produced his ground-breaking work on human anatomy; Ambroise Paré (1510-90) pioneered surgery; and Michael Servetus (1509/11-53) described pulmonary circulation. Despite this, incursions into the field of medicine were minor: belief in the four humors prevailed and diseases were usually treated by bloodletting. Plant medicines were also used, though with opium among the most popular, the remedy could sometimes be more damaging than the disease.

One of only three known photographs of bloodletting in existence (1860)
Public DomainOne of only three known photographs of bloodletting in existence (1860) - Credit: Burns Archive
Raw opium
Public DomainRaw opium - Credit: Erik Fenderson
Page 57. " whatever the savage people could teach, in respect to medicinal herbs and roots that grew in the forest "
White hellebore (1897)
Public DomainWhite hellebore (1897) - Credit: Franz Eugen Köhler
Medicine woman (1913)
Public DomainMedicine woman (1913) - Credit: Harris & Ewing

For Native Americans, medicine and religion were inextricable and illness was usually ascribed to supernatural causes. As in Europe, cures took the form of purification, though the Native American sweat-lodge was both more effective and more pleasant than the bloodletting favored on the other side of the Atlantic. Medicines and poultices were derived from animal fats and plants. John Josselyn, who visited New England in 1638, records that the local Native Americans used white hellebore to treat wounds, toothache and herpes. Coughs and colds were allayed with a compound including sassafras root, wormwood, Jerusalem oak goosefoot, liquorice, aniseed and fennel-seed. Chewed-up alder tree bark cured cut knees, and boils were induced to burst with sterilized hemlock bark. 

Fennel seeds
Creative Commons AttributionFennel seeds - Credit: 'Psycho Delia'

Settlers' attitudes to Native American medicine varied wildly. While those such as Josselyn were keen to learn, the majority held it to be devilry and shunned it accordingly. Despite this, many plant remedies found their way into the white settlers’ medicine cabinets and some continue to be used to this day. 

Page 58. " My old studies in alchemy "
The Alchemist
Public DomainThe Alchemist - Credit: Joseph Leopold Ratinckx

Alchemy is an ancient philosophical tradition that combined what would, in later centuries, resolve into the separate disciplines of chemistry, occultism and metallurgy. Its main objectives were to transmute base metals into gold or silver and to discover the elixir of life. During the early seventeenth century, alchemists enjoyed high standing and monarchs would employ them as scientific consultants. Though the philosopher’s stone and elixir of life remained pipe dreams and occultist practices later became associated with charlatanism, the discoveries of alchemists paved the way for modern science. Early modern proponents included Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle and Elias Ashmole.


Allegorical alchemic imagery from Johann Conrad Barchusen's
Public DomainAllegorical alchemic imagery from Johann Conrad Barchusen's "Elementa chemiae" (1718) - Credit: Chemical Heritage Foundation

Hawthorne had earlier written on the theme of alchemy in his celebrated short story, ‘The Birthmark’ (1843), which tells of a young scientist who becomes dangerously obsessed with removing his beautiful wife’s one bar to perfection. Read it here

Page 58. " I know not Lethe nor Nepenthe "
Illustration of the River of Lethe for Dante's
Public DomainIllustration of the River of Lethe for Dante's "Divine Comedy" - Credit: Gustave Dore
The Waters of Lethe by the Plains of Elysium (1880)
Public DomainThe Waters of Lethe by the Plains of Elysium (1880) - Credit: John Roddam Spencer Stanhope












In Greek mythology, Lethe is one of the five rivers of Hades that flow through the Underworld. Enshrouded in perpetual twilight and mist, it winds slowly round the cave of Somnus, the god of sleep. Its name translates literally as oblivion and all who drink its waters — as all souls destined for reincarnation must — instantly forget their past lives. Those condemned to wander the earth as ghosts return to Lethe each day as dawn breaks.    

The Opium Smoker
Public DomainThe Opium Smoker - Credit: Jean-Jules-Antoine Lecomte du Nouÿ


Nepenthe is a drug described by the ancients as engendering forgetfulness of sorrow and pain. Some modern scholars have speculated that it may have been a form of opium.

Dried opium poppy seedheads
GNU Free Documentation LicenseDried opium poppy seedheads - Credit: Zylance


Page 58. " as old as Paracelsus "
Public DomainParacelsus - Credit: Quentin Massys

Paracelsus is the more memorable alias of Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim (1493-1541), a German-Swiss astrologer, physician, botanist and alchemist. His key idea was that health depended on a harmonious relationship between man the microcosm and nature the macrocosm. This was a radical departure from the received idea that it was governed by the four humors and introduced the idea that disease could be effected by external agents. Paracelsus’s motto was “Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest” (“Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself”), making him a highly apt point of reference for Chillingworth.

Page 60. " I might have beheld the bale-fire of that scarlet letter blazing at the end of our path "

Peter Bysshe Shelley's cremation on a funeral pyre
Public DomainPeter Bysshe Shelley's cremation on a funeral pyre - Credit: Louis Edouard Fournier
A bale-fire is a funeral pyre, a wooden structure on which the bodies of the dead were formerly cremated. Chillingworth’s association of this with the scarlet letter is ambiguous, for it suggests at once the flaming destruction of his marriage to Hester and a means of ritual purification through which Hester may be liberated. 

Page 61. " I have sought gold in alchemy "
A model of the legendary philosopher's stone
Creative Commons AttributionA model of the legendary philosopher's stone - Credit: tv

One of the greatest missions of alchemy was to discover the philosopher’s stone, a legendary substance that was believed to turn base metals, such as lead and iron, into gold. Belief in the existence of this magical stuff goes back to at least the fourth century and obsessed alchemists well into the seventeenth. Descriptions of the stone’s appearance vary wildly, with some claiming that it is not a stone at all but a form of spiritual matter. Most accounts of how to obtain it are wrapped up in so much esoterica as to be unfathomable; those which make at least a little sense generally recommend fusing sulphur and mercury. Below is an animation of the Mutus Liber (1677), a seventeenth century book that illustrates how to make the philosopher’s stone.

Page 61. " Thou and thine, Hester Prynne, belong to me. My home is where thou art, and where he is "
Georgiy Petrov as Mephistopheles in the opera Faust
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeGeorgiy Petrov as Mephistopheles in the opera Faust - Credit: CTMusic2012

The claim Chillingworth here stakes on Hester is reminiscent of Mephistopheles' words to Doctor Faustus in Christopher Marlowe’s (1564-93) eponymous play. Like Chillingworth, Faustus is an eminent scientist who, yearning for yet greater knowledge, makes a pact with the devil. When he asks his attendant demon Mephistopheles about the whereabouts of hell, he receives the reply, “Where we are tortur'd and remain for ever: Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscrib'd In one self-place; but where we are is hell, And where hell is, there must we ever be.” In this literary echo, Chillingworth is at once an agent of Satan and the miserable Faustus who is doomed by his hubristic desire to be greater than God.

Page 62. " Art thou like the Black Man that haunts the forest round about us? "
Temptation on the Mount (c.1311) shows a black devil
Public DomainTemptation on the Mount (c.1311) shows a black devil - Credit: Duccio

Just as whiteness is emblematic of spiritual purity in Christian iconography, blackness symbolizes the demonic, and depictions of Satan as a “black man” have been common for many centuries. During the witchcraft trials, accusations abounded of alleged witches meeting with the devil in the forest — believed to be his natural habitat — for sexual intercourse or to enter into an unholy covenant with him. For the New England Puritans, the similarities between the devil’s skin color and dwelling place and those of the Native Americans meant that the latter were often seen as Satan’s children. The Puritan minister and author Cotton Mather records in his Wonders of the Invisible World (1693) that “Black Man” is what “Witches call the Devil; and they generally say he resembles an Indian” (p. 75).

Page 64. " a people whose customs and life were alien from the law that had condemned her "
Native American woman whose nose has been cut off for infidelity (1880s)
Public DomainNative American woman whose nose has been cut off for infidelity (1880s) - Credit: C. S. Fly

By and large, Native American customs were much more liberal than those of the Puritans and many were outraged to find themselves punished for activities that were not deemed immoral in their culture. Female adultery, however, did not generally fall into this bracket, though attitudes and sanctions varied between tribes. At the mildest end of the spectrum, the couple would simply separate, leaving each party free to remarry. In more violent cases, the husband would either beat his erring wife or mutilate her nose or ears in order to provide a visible testimony to her sin and to render her unattractive to other men in future.  

Page 64. " a union that, unrecognized on earth, would bring them together before the bar of final judgment "

The Last Judgment (1466-73)
Public DomainThe Last Judgment (1466-73) - Credit: Hans Memling
In Christian belief, the Final Judgment is the divine appraisal due to occur at the End of Days after the Resurrection of the Dead, in which the bodies and souls of the dead reunite and come before God to be judged. According to his assessment of their righteousness, or lack of, they will be consigned to an eternal existence in either heaven or hell. That Hester sees the Final Judgment as a court of law indicates the extent to which earthly and eternal life were allied in the Puritan imagination. 

Page 65. " On the outskirts of the town, within the verge of the peninsula "
A 1645 map of Boston
Public DomainA 1645 map of Boston - Credit: George Lamb

During Hester’s time, most of Boston’s c.1,200 inhabitants settled in the area surrounding the meeting house on the southern coast of the peninsula. From Hawthorne’s description of the location, it seems likely that Hester took up her cottage residence on the inhospitable marshy lands of the north western coast.


Illustration of Hester's
Public DomainIllustration of Hester's "lonesome dwelling" from the 1878 edition - Credit: Mary Hallock Foote
Page 66. " In the array of funerals, too,—whether for the apparel of the dead body, or to typify, by manifold emblematic devices of sable cloth and snowy lawn, the sorrow of the survivors "

This example of sumptuary hypocrisy is in fact one of which the Puritans were innocent — at least at this point. Corpses were dressed in a simple white shift and mourners too were required to observe austerity in their dress; even donning black clothes was deemed sinful ostentation. This began to change later in the seventeenth century when wearing elaborate mourning gloves, ribbons and cloaks became de rigeur, as did displays of emotion that would have been seen as blasphemous in earlier decades. 

Page 66. " Baby-linen—for babies then wore robes of state—afforded still another possibility of toil and emolument "
A seventeenth century bearing cloth
Creative Commons AttributionA seventeenth century bearing cloth - Credit: Victoria and Albert Museum, London
A woman carrying a bearing cloth at a baptism ceremony
Public DomainA woman carrying a bearing cloth at a baptism ceremony - Credit: Otto Piltz

Though babies typically wore plain linen smocks for most of their infancy, baptism was a different matter. For this occasion, new-borns were wrapped in special “bearing cloths.” These were made of luxurious fabrics, such as velvet, satin or damask, and were bordered with gold or silver lace, or with lavish embroidery, often in the form of passages from scripture. The money and skill lavished on these articles allowed parents to demonstrate their wealth and social standing in a way that was normally off limits.

Public DomainBaptism - Credit: Lucas Cranach the Younger
Page 67. " She had in her nature a rich, voluptuous, Oriental characteristic "
The Sultan's Favorite
Public DomainThe Sultan's Favorite - Credit: Adrien-Henri Tanoux

The romanticization of the “Orient” — the eastern as opposed to the western world — was in full swing in nineteenth century Europe, where art and literature teemed with depictions of Middle Eastern and Asian life that emphasized sensuality, exoticism and the ornate. This trend, which has come to be viewed as a manifestation of western imperialist condescension, was less overt in America but its influence can still be found in the works of nineteenth century literary giants such as Poe and Hawthorne. You can read more about Hawthorne’s particular brand of Orientalism here.

Harem Scene (1899)
Public DomainHarem Scene (1899) - Credit: Oliver Dennett Grover
Page 67. " it had set a mark upon her, more intolerable to a woman’s heart than that which branded the brow of Cain "
The First Murder (1899)
Public DomainThe First Murder (1899) - Credit: Léon Bazile Perrault

In the Book of Genesis, Cain is the first son of Adam and Eve. Jealously fearing that his younger brother Abel is preferred to him, he leads him out into the wilderness and slays him. As a punishment, God condemns him to wander the earth as a fugitive for the rest of his days, a fate he fears will result in him being murdered by the first person he encounters. To safeguard him, “the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him” (Genesis 4:15). This mark, though it preserves his life, identifies him as a fratricidal sinner, a doomed man.

Cain Fleeing from the Wrath of God (The Body of Abel Found by Adam and Eve) (c.1805-09)
Public DomainCain Fleeing from the Wrath of God (The Body of Abel Found by Adam and Eve) (c.1805-09) - Credit: William Blake

Page 69. " it gave her a sympathetic knowledge of the hidden sin in other hearts "

This is one of Hawthorne’s favorite themes. He explores it particularly memorably in his 1835 short story ‘Young Goodman Brown,’ the tale of a New England Puritan who becomes acquainted with the true natures of his supposedly virtuous fellow townspeople during a midnight sojourn in the forest. These upright, honest folk are, he finds, all regular attendants of satanic masses and intend to inaugurate him and his wife — the town’s two remaining uncorrupted souls — into their diabolical order. Just as Hester identifies her insights as “the insidious whispers of the bad angel,” Young Goodman Browns’ rob him of his faith in mankind and it is through this, rather than any ritual induction, that the devil gains his soul.   

Page 71. " We have as yet hardly spoken of the infant "
Depiction of Pearl from the 1893 edition
Public DomainDepiction of Pearl from the 1893 edition - Credit: Frederick C. Gordon

The model for Pearl is thought to be Hawthorne and Sophia Peabody's eldest child, Una (1844-77), who was six years old when The Scarlet Letter was published. She was named after the personification of Truth in Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, and photographs show her to have been a delicate, elf-like child. Una's life was beset by serious illness, loneliness and disappointment. She never fully recovered from a childhood bout of typhus, was rejected in love for her younger sister, was confined to an asylum for psychosis and lost her fiancé at sea only a short while after becoming engaged. Following her bereavement, she retreated into a convent where she died at the young age of 33.

Page 71. " she named the infant “Pearl,” as being of great price "
A Water Baby (1900) depicts a baby as a pearl
Public DomainA Water Baby (1900) depicts a baby as a pearl - Credit: Herbert James Draper

This is a reference to the Book of Matthew, which asserts that “the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-6). Pearl, purchased by Hester’s sexual sin, is also its redemption. She is in this sense a living analogue of the scarlet letter itself, and her symbolic function is just as protean.

The Parable of the Pearl illustrated in a stained glass window
Public DomainThe Parable of the Pearl illustrated in a stained glass window - Credit: StAnselm
Oyster with pearl
GNU Free Documentation LicenseOyster with pearl - Credit: Manfred Heyde
Page 71. " worthy to have been left there, to be the plaything of the angels, after the world’s first parents were driven out "
Expulsion of Adam and Eve (a.1889)
Public DomainExpulsion of Adam and Eve (a.1889) - Credit: Alexandre Cabanel

Through this compliment to Pearl’s physical perfection, Hawthorne likens her mother to Eve, the archetypal fallen woman. Hester’s ostracization from the community parallels Eve’s expulsion from Eden; she is likewise guilty of a great sin against God’s commandments and, just as Eve’s sinful state is shared by her descendents, Hester’s is passed on to Pearl. Hawthorne does not use the comparison entirely to her detriment, though: from her own fallen state, Hester sees that all of humanity is equally tainted by Eve’s original sin. The capacity for wickedness is not hers alone but lies in the heart of every human being, and her knowledge of this affords her a new, intuitive communion with her fellow Bostonians.

Expulsion from the Garden of Eden (1828)
Public DomainExpulsion from the Garden of Eden (1828) - Credit: Thomas Cole
Page 73. " The discipline of the family, in those days, was of a far more rigid kind than now "
moral improvement
Public DomainThe Spanking - Credit: Francois Claudius Compte-Calix

Since the Puritans believed that we are all born into a state of sin, children — as yet unexposed to the corrective influence of God’s wrath — were particularly troublesome creatures. The main task of parenting was to render them obedient and fearful by breaking their wills. Regular whippings, admonishments and threats of abandonment and castration were all considered good practice. Those who failed to be broken by these cruelties faced an even worse fate: execution was mandated for intractable or rebellious children of sixteen and above.

Page 73. " She seemed rather an airy sprite, which, after playing its fantastic sports for a little while upon the cottage-floor, would flit away with a mocking smile "
Fairies in a Bird's Nest (detail) (c.1860)
Public DomainFairies in a Bird's Nest (detail) (c.1860) - Credit: John Anster Fitzgerald

Sprites have long been known as capricious folk, as capable of malice and mischief as they are of unexpected kindnesses. For Puritans — who, despite their disavowal of superstition, believed in these magical beings with the utmost sincerity — they had a much darker nature. Since they have their roots in pre-Christian beliefs, the Puritans were convinced that fairies were the imps of Satan, and those suspected of having dealings with them were tried as witches. Hawthorne’s likening of Pearl to a sprite therefore signifies her alienation from the Puritan society and the laws governing it.

Mischievous fairies torment the artist in his sleep
Public DomainFairies haunt the artist in his sleep - Credit: John Anster Fitzgerald
Page 74. " the master-word that should control this new and incomprehensible being "

The idea that a necromancer could conjure up and control demons through the use of magic words, originating in Ancient Egypt, became popular in Europe during the Middle Ages. Spells in grimoires, such as the Key of Solomon and The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, instruct the magician to summon the demon in the name of God as part of a litany that strings together biblical references and cabalistic names. The spirit is usually conjured from within a magic circle so that it can do no harm to its master, whose bidding it is then compelled to perform. 

The Golem, an anthropomorphic being made of dust and designed to obey its creator's every command, is brought to life when a magic word is inscribed on its forehead
Public DomainThe Golem, an anthropomorphic being made of dust and designed to obey its creator's every command, is brought to life when a magic word is inscribed on its forehead - Credit: Mikoláš Aleš
Page 74. " disporting themselves in such grim fashion as the Puritanic nurture would permit "
Children's Games (1559-60)
Public DomainChildren's Games (1559-60) - Credit: Pieter Bruegel the Elder

In a society that viewed hard work as the route to self-discipline and prized self-discipline above all else, play was frowned upon. It was a habit of frivolity, so the Puritans thought, that would lead to an adult life marked by idleness at best and sin at worst. Some games — namely those involving cards, dice or bowls — were banned outright; others — singing games, riding hobby-horses and flying kites — were permissible. Play was often highly gendered and, since toys were scarce, depended on children’s improvisation.

Children spinning tops
Public DomainChildren spinning tops - Credit: John Gendall
Page 74. " taking scalps in a sham-fight with the Indians "

Scalping, in which a sharp knife is used to remove part of a person’s scalp and hair, was an attendant part of battle for a number of Native American tribes. That of a slain enemy was a trophy, whilst that of a living one betokened superior might and, it was believed, gave the scalper control over the victim’s spirit. The practice was embraced with gusto by the settlers. Colonial officials placed bounties on the scalps of enemy tribe members during the many wars that erupted, and even Puritan ministers did not find their religious beliefs incompatible with sending their flocks off on scalping expeditions.   

Colonial heroine Hannah Duston scalping Native Americans ( (1847)
Public DomainColonial heroine Hannah Duston scalping Native Americans ( (1847) - Credit: Junius Brutus Stearns


Page 74. " freaks of imitative witchcraft "
Witches' Flight (1797-8)
Public DomainWitches' Flight (1797-8) - Credit: Francisco Goya
A Salem witch with poppet
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeA Salem witch with poppet - Credit: Len Radin

Once a person had enlisted in the dark order of witches, diabolical powers, both fantastic and banal, became theirs. They were able to fly and transform themselves into birds and beasts; they used poppets to inflict torments on those they wished to harm; they sent out their specters — ghostly agents invisible to all but the victims — to take sexual advantage of sleeping men. Between times, they visited strange illnesses on cows and prevented bread from rising.

National Geographic have made a fun and extremely well-researched virtual recreation of the Salem witch trials in which you star as a suspected witch. Visit it here. You can also view some of the many rich resources providing detailed historical information, handily collated here.

Page 75. " The spell of life went forth from her ever creative spirit, and communicated itself to a thousand objects "

Face in a tree
Creative Commons AttributionFace in a tree - Credit: Rajesh_India
Pearl’s ability to bestow imaginative life on inanimate objects is indicative not just of witchcraft but also of animism. According to this ancient religious worldview, it is not just humans who are endowed with souls but also animals, plants and natural phenomena such as thunderstorms and shadows. Animistic beliefs were a key element of paganism.

Page 75. " The pine trees, aged, black, and solemn "
Black pines
Creative Commons AttributionBlack pines - Credit: Eric Vondy

The pine tree has been a symbol of New England since pre-colonial times. After their arrival, the settlers began to use it on their flags, feeling that its stately dignity, uprightness and austerity captured the ideals of Puritan life, as well as embodying the strange and frightening wilderness against which they were proud to struggle.










Though the pine’s prodigious longevity has made it a symbol of immortality, it is also equated with old age and death. Pines are often planted in cemeteries and engraved on tombstones, while their soft, pliable wood makes them a popular material for coffins.